Johnny Kirkham: A football pioneer


November 18, 1899
Johnny Kirkham was once the idol of the Accrington football public. His oblique shots from the left wing were always a source of trouble to opposing goalkeepers, and now Kirkham is just as much respected as captain of the Barnoldswick team, for whom he plays in the centre forward position.

It would take a long story to relate the doings of the old international, who was born at Clayton-le-Moors on the 26th of February, 1869, and commenced his football career with Hapton when only about 14 years of age.

Two years later he joined the Oswaldtwistle Rovers, with whom he stayed for three years. Subsequently he played for Padiham against Burnley, and his conduct in that match led to him being given a trial with Accrington against Blackpool, the former winning by six goals to nil.

As Kirkham was fortunate enough to score four goals of the goals, he was made a regular member of the Reds’ team, with whom he stayed until they were thrown out of the First Division.

It was while playing with Accrington that Kirkham was chosen to represent England against Ireland, in 1889-90.

During his stay, Accrington won the Lancashire Cup. When with Accrington he also took part in many once-popular “five-a-side” competitions.

Blackpool next attracted his attention, but he only stayed with the seaside team for a portion of a season, his old club Accrington, once again claiming his services. This was only for the finish of the season.

When the Reds disbanded Kirkham went to America, where he played football with Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and with them ran into the final for the America Cup, which, owing to bad weather, was not finished until the following season by which time he had returned to England, where Oswaldtwistle Rovers, in the Lancashire Combination, secured his support.

The following year he returned to his first love, Hapton, and towards the end of the season he was transferred to Barnock, with whom he now plays.

During the time he has kicked the leather Kirkham has secured many and varied honours. His greatest is the international cap, 1889-90: he also won medals as follows: – Lancashire Cup medal, Charity Cup medal, Charity Shield medal, Accrington and District Cup medal (three times), and Blackburn Park Road Cup and medals.

The international cap, three county badges, and 13 medals (won in Combination Leagues), in addition to many other honours, are prized by Johnny Kirkham, who was invariably chosen to represent the Rest of the League against the champions.
(Lancashire Evening Post: November 18, 1899)

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